Serb victims exhumed in Bosnian war crimes trial

KONJIC, May 7, 2000 -- (Reuters) Bosnia's judicial authorities on Saturday exhumed the remains of four members of a Bosnian Serb family as part of the war crimes trial of three Moslem policemen charged with killing them.

The policemen are on trial before the cantonal court in the southern town of Mostar, charged with killing the Golubovic family in July 1992, early in the 1992-95 Bosnia war.

They were charged with the murder of the family in January 1999, but the prosecutor of Bosnia's Moslem-Croat federation got permission from the Hague-based war crimes tribunal to change the charges to those of war crimes killings.

The Golubovic parents, respected high school teachers in Konjic, about 40 km (25 miles) south of Sarajevo, and their two sons of five and seven were taken from their house at night and killed. The three policemen are also from Konjic.

Djordjo Unkovic, 75, the children's grandfather, said he had not learnt where the four were buried until last year, when he placed a monument at the site. "I only want to know the truth" about their murder, he said.

On Saturday the remains of four bodies were removed from the grave for formal identification.

Dusko Tomic, who is representing the Golubovic family at the trial, said the crime was committed for the purpose of ethnically cleansing Konjic. "Politics is responsible for the crime," he told Reuters.

After the murders, not a single Bosnian Serb or Croat wished to remain in Konjic, he said. "They understood the murders as a message that all of them must leave Konjic if they wanted to stay alive," Tomic said.

The three policemen were detained in 1994 after an investigation into the murder of the Golubovic family, but were declared mentally incompetent and released soon afterwards.

Reuf Zaimovic, the president of the multi-ethnic court council that is running the first war crimes trial in Mostar, said he hoped that the trial, which has been monitored by UN war crimes tribunal representatives, would end in June.

"We only want justice to be done and criminals to be punished," said Risto Golubovic, a brother of the murdered Djuro Golubovic.

Formerly multi-ethnic, Bosnia was divided by the 1995 Dayton peace treaty that ended the three-year war there into two entities, a Moslem-Croat federation and a Serb republic, loosely linked by a central government.

The trial continues.

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